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Press Box: Rag Trade

Maybe the Times sale isn't so bad for L.A.

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Not all Angelenos are wringing their hands over the Chandler family's decision to sell the Los Angeles Times to Chicago's Tribune Company. Longtime critics of the Times in L.A.'s alternative media can barely contain their glee at the paper's current travails. "I don't look on this as anything horrible," says Rick Barrs, editor of New Times L.A. (a weekly owned by an Arizona-based chain). "I mean, is it a bad thing that the paper's no longer going to be owned by this creepy, venal, right-wing family? With the exception of Otis Chandler" -- the highly regarded Times publisher from 1960 to 1980 -- "the Chandlers have been pretty evil, or at least more interested in money than in journalism. I hope that when the Tribune Company takes over, they fire everybody above city editor." L.A. historian Mike Davis, whose book City of Quartz chronicled the Chandler dynasty's use of the Times as an anti-labor, pro-big-business cudgel, isn't shedding tears, either. "As far as I'm concerned, the sale to the Tribune may be a good thing," he says. "It's like Chinatown: It's all about real estate." The paper served as a cheerleader for development of the city's moribund downtown, Davis explains, and now, without the Times Mirror Company shaping the paper's editorial policy, maybe the city will stop wasting its resources propping up land values there. Sue Horton, editor of L.A. Weekly (owned by New York's Village Voice Media Inc.) takes a more conciliatory tack. "It's nerve-racking to imagine not having a paper that's involved in the civic life of the city," she says, "even if historically much of that involvement has been to the city's detriment. We hated the hometown paper -- but at least it was the hometown paper."


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